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Dietary fatty acid composition during pregnancy and the risk of asthma in the offspring

Authors

  • Mirka Lumia,

    1. Nutrition Unit, Department of Lifestyle and Participation, National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
    2. School of Health Sciences, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
    3. Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Päivi Luukkainen,

    1. Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Heli Tapanainen,

    1. Nutrition Unit, Department of Lifestyle and Participation, National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Minna Kaila,

    1. Tampere University Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Tampere, Finland and University of Helsinki, Hjelt Institute, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Maijaliisa Erkkola,

    1. Division of Nutrition, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Liisa Uusitalo,

    1. Nutrition Unit, Department of Lifestyle and Participation, National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
    2. School of Health Sciences, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
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  • Sari Niinistö,

    1. Department of Public Health, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Michael G. Kenward,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Medical Statistic Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
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  • Jorma Ilonen,

    1. Immunogenetics Laboratory, 20014 University of Turku, Turku, Finland
    2. Department of Clinical Microbiology, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
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  • Olli Simell,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Turku, Kiinanmyllynkatu, Turku, Finland
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  • Mikael Knip,

    1. Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Department of Pediatrics, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
    3. Folkhälsan Research Institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Riitta Veijola,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
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  • Suvi M. Virtanen

    1. Nutrition Unit, Department of Lifestyle and Participation, National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
    2. School of Health Sciences, FI-33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
    3. Pediatric Research Centre and Science Center of Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere University Hospital and University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
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Mirka Lumia, Nutrition Unit, Department of Lifestyle and Participation, National Institute of Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, FIN-00271 Helsinki, Finland.
Tel.: +358504944999
Fax: +358206108591
E-mail: mirka.lumia@fimnet.fi

Abstract

To cite this article: Lumia M, Luukkainen P, Kaila M, Tapanainen H, Erkkola M, Uusitalo L, Niinistö S, Kenward MG, Ilonen J, Simell O, Knip M, Veijola R, Virtanen SM. Dietary fatty acid composition during pregnancy and the risk of asthma in the offspring. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2011: 22: 827–835.

Abstract

Background:  Fatty acids (FA) modulate the immune system, and it has been proposed that they affect the incidence of IgE-mediated allergic diseases. We explored the association of maternal dietary FA composition during pregnancy with the risk of asthma in the offspring.

Methods:  We analyzed data from the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) Nutrition Study. Maternal dietary intake during pregnancy (8th month) was assessed by a validated 181-item food frequency questionnaire. The occurrence of asthma was assessed at the age of 5 yr with a questionnaire modified from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Cox proportional hazards regression was used for the statistical analyses.

Results:  Low maternal intakes of α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) [lowest quarter vs. mid-half HR 1.67 (95% CI 1.12–2.48)] and total n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) [HR 1.66 (95% CI 1.11–2.48)] during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of asthma in the offspring, while a low intake of arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) [HR 0.52 (95% CI 0.32–0.84)] and high intake of total saturated fatty acids [highest quarter vs. mid-half HR 0.55 (95% CI 0.34–0.90)] and palmitic acid (16:0) [HR 0.51 (95% CI 0.31–0.83)] were associated with a decreased risk of asthma. The ratios of n-6 to n-3-PUFA and 18:2n-6 to 18:3n-3, and the maternal intake of oils, fish and fish products, showed no association with the risk of asthma. The associations found were independent of several perinatal and clinical confounders.

Conclusion:  Maternal intake of FA during pregnancy was associated with childhood asthma. Maternal α-linolenic acid, total n-3 PUFA and palmitic acid intake may decrease, while arachidonic acid intake may increase the risk of asthma in the offspring.

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